Townhouse Books

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Appleseed: John Clute

So have you ever read a book that was really enjoyable to read, but once you're done with it you're not really able to say whether it was good or not? Or, probably more precisely, you liked it, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend it to anyone else?

Well that's how I feel about Appleseed. The setup: it's the future and everything is really cool, unless you're on Earth, and then things really suck for you. Because Earth has been taken over by Plaque, an informational disease that has laid waste to the Earth, and which is being spread across the galaxy, killing entire planets and civilizations as it goes.

That's the setup. Our hero, who owns / is friends with an information ark named the Tile Dance, becomes the focus of unwanted attention from a belligerent company called Insort Geront. Things are not as they seem, though, and as the book progresses there are plot twists, as there always are, but these twists mostly suck, as they tend to be so implausible that you're left wondering why the Clute didn't think more about what he was doing, and it seems as though he's just making shit up so that he can hit the plot points that were in his outline.

This makes the book sound unappealing, which is not really what I'm going for here, as it's a very enjoyable read. There are a lot of big ideas, his vocabulary is the best of any science fiction author that I've read since David Brin, and he can really turn a phrase, but I still probably wouldn't recommend it to you. Actually, if you have any interest at all in this book you should send me an email (or comment in the thread) and I'll send you my copy so that you can see what you think.

Clute has a very good reputation as a science fiction book critic, and this first book has been widely anticipated. It's an excellent first effort, and I'll most likely read the rest of his books, upon which I'll report in the future.

it's not entirely clear whether Clute is an important new voice in science fiction whose work represents the next major phase of science fictional technique, or whether he's just pretentious and, in the end, vapid and uninteresting.


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  • "Because Earth has been taken over by Plaque"

    I'm picturing a giant toothbrush...

    How does an informational disease kill people and planets?

    By evt1618, at 10:55 AM  

  • Well, it's not entirely clear, but it appears to be a result of critical systems just breaking down. It's like a computer virus on a planet-wide scale in a world where everything is a computer, even your shoelaces.

    By bshort, at 5:36 PM  

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